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When I was a kid my parents used to listen to Harry Chapin all the time. One of the songs that was on repeat in our house was “All My Life’s a Circle.” I loved the tune, but didn’t understand the meaning until I grew up.
About ten years ago we had a very homesick camper. This little girl would wake up every morning and wait for me to walk by her cabin on my way to the office. Then she would follow behind me and join my dog Brooklyn and I at the office. I typically get to the office at 6:00, as it’s the perfect time of the day to get work done without any distractions. Her homesickness was real that first week of camp, and then I think she just liked the attention from me. She would remain in the office until our senior staff morning meeting started at 8:00 a.m.. That camper came back to camp for years, and is now a part of our senior staff.
On the first day of camp last week she was like a whirlwind, moving from homesick camper to homesick camper. It was a wonderful thing to watch and I had an immense sense of pride seeing her help all these children. The song “All My Life’s a Circle” popped into my head and a huge grin appeared on my face. Camp was back in action. Kids were learning, growing, and having fun.
It’s been a wonderful first week at camp and it is clear the kids need camp more than ever. The expressions of joy, glee and happiness we have seen at camp this week have been amazing. Alongside those positives, some of our campers are wrestling with separation anxiety. This is understandable. Our campers have been at home with their families for the better part of the last year and are now in a peer environment, away from family. This is quite a switch! While the past week has been amazing for the vast majority of our campers the vast majority of the time, there are also moments where it can be overwhelming.
Those moments are what camp is all about–the growth opportunities. Camp is about growing into a better version of yourself, and you can’t grow without some level of discomfort. Our campers are learning to manage their belongings, responsibilities and relationships while at camp.
Birch Trail offers a camper the opportunity to grow at her own developmental level. Slowly, and with support, camp helps kids to grow into more thoughtful, mature, and independent versions of themselves. After a year like 2020/2021, that independence can feel scary. Our campers are learning (or re-learning) how to keep track of their things, how to meet new people, try new activities, and how to be a responsible member of a group. Time spent at Birch Trail allows these changes and skills to grow in measurable steps, with low stakes, and surrounded by the structures of support our children need right now. Don’t be surprised to get a few sad letters and some letters about conflict; it’s all part of the process.
At this point we have had two rounds of negative PCR tests and are slowly opening up camp to mixed age group activities. We are opening slowly as part of our covid protocol, and taking it slow in order for our campers to adjust to the changes in routine. The first week of camp we were in cabin pods. We’ve been in age group pods for three days, and in the next day or two we will move to village pods.
I hope that you have been enjoying the daily photos and videos that have been posted to our website. Please look at the photos, but don’t look into the photos. They are literally just a snapshot in time.
As a reminder, we do not accept packages of any kind at camp. Please do not send them. Packages that you send will be donated to a charity of our choosing.
Finally, I would like to give a huge “how” to Kim and Matt Schocket who have been doing a wonderful job as our camp Doctors. It’s been great to have them here and they have become an important part of the summer of 2021. Thanks Kim and Matt!